Monday, December 19, 2011

Looking for a New Puppy? Don't Buy the Pet Store Lies

Photo credit: Frank Schemberger
If you are still in the pet store looking at puppies, even after you know the truth about the "USDA licensed breeders"  from my blog last week; here are some of the other lies and spin that the pet store staff will try to feed you.

1. The Adoption Trick

Today's pet store puppies comes to you from Madison, Wisconsin. A large, popular store that uses the term "adoption" in their marketing. You could "adopt" a pug puppy for $800 and feel all warm and fuzzy about the wonderful thing you are doing.

Adopting pets is very trendy right now and the pet store industry is trying to cash in on this trend with clever marketing and wording.   Some pet stores will purposely keep their puppies in extremely stark, small cages  to make the shopper feel sorry for them. Then the shoppers can feel like they are "rescuing" the puppy by "adopting" it. Don't buy the lie. It's not an adoption or a rescue - it's a sale. A  pet store sale of a puppy mill puppy.

2. The Money Back Guarantee

Some stores will try to lure you with a promise of a money-back guarantee knowing  full well that you will be emotionally attached to that puppy about five minutes after you walk out the door with it. Customers rarely return puppies, because they are afraid of the puppy's outcome; so the pet store doesn't have to make good on the "money-back guarantee". Instead, the customer will absorb the cost of the vet bills when their puppy becomes ill or has genetic flaws, as many pet store puppies do.

The worst case scenario? The new owner can't afford the vet bills and the puppy is surrendered to an animal shelter, contributing to our already overburdened shelter system.

3. The Small, Local, Reputable Breeder Lie

Pet stores will try to convince you that their puppies come from small, local, reputable breeders. Don't be fooled. Small, reputable breeders don't supply pet stores. They have enough demand for their puppies already; because their puppies are sociable, healthy and home-raised. Why would they pay a high margin to the pet store, when they can get the full sales price themselves? Pet store puppies come from commercial breeders who are only concerned with profit.

Some pet stores will tell you that they will reveal the breeder's name and location; but not until you've signed on the dotted line. Again, they know that once you walk out that door with the puppy, the likelihood is very low that you will return it.  If pet store staff  do give you the name and location, call their bluff and check out the breeder and his facility. You should be allowed to see both of the puppy's parents and the whole facility . You should be allowed to interact with the puppy's parents; checking their temperament and their health.

4. The "Mark Them Up, then Mark Them Down" Trick

Most pet store puppies are overpriced to begin with. It is very common to see the original price "slashed"out in red crayon on the glass, with a "reduced price" below to make it look like the puppy is a good deal. Be an educated consumer and check the prices at your local shelter and at the truly reputable breeders in your area.

Don't buy the pet store lies this Christmas season. Real adoptions occur at shelters, humane organizations, or rescues. Adopt, Don't Shop.  

Thank you to my friend and Wisconsin Voters For Companion Animals advisor, Frank Schemberger for providing the photos and the details of the Christmas pet store puppies. A series of these photos and writeups are circulating on Facebook and in local Wisconsin on-line publications. Frank has worked tirelessly over the last several years, photographing and exposing the cruel pet store trade in the Midwest.


  1. Excellent series - somehow, it really needs to get to the public. Are you sharing the posts with vets and rescues? Or in the newspaper?

  2. Thanks Rebecca! Yes they are being posted in some of the Patch online publications in Wisconsin. I always am looking for ideas to be able to reach more mainstream readers and media.

  3. Go to the shelter get a healthy loving pet n who is healthy save an Animal from death. Thank YOU merry Xmas save a dog or cat's Life

  4. The day all the Puppy mills are closed will be a great day ideed. But until then, stories like these are just what the public needs!!! They need to know what happens in the puppy mills and what happens to the poor Mommie dog that is bred over and over till she dies.